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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(8), 9714-9725; doi:10.3390/ijerph120809714

Relationship between Health Literacy, Health-Related Behaviors and Health Status: A Survey of Elderly Chinese

Nursing Department of Medical College, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou 225002, China
Clinical Nursing Department of Nursing College, Xinjiang Medical University, Urumqi 830000, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Received: 14 June 2015 / Revised: 5 August 2015 / Accepted: 6 August 2015 / Published: 18 August 2015
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [677 KB, uploaded 18 August 2015]


Background: Despite the large volume of research dedicated to health-related behavior change, chronic disease costs continue to rise, thus creating a major public health burden. Health literacy, the ability to seek, understand, and utilize health information, has been identified as an important factor in the course of chronic conditions. Little research has been conducted on the relationship between health literacy and health-related behaviors and health status in elderly Chinese. The aim of this study was to elucidate the relationship between health literacy and health-related behaviors and health status in China. Methods: The subjects enrolled in this study were selected based on a stratified cluster random sampling design. Information involving >4500 older adults in 44 pension institutions in Urumqi, Changji, Karamay, and Shihezi of Xinjiang between September 2011 and June 2012 was collected. The Chinese Citizen Health Literacy Questionnaire (China Health Education Centre, 2008) and a Scale of the General Status were administered and the information was obtained through face-to-face inquiries by investigators. A total of 1452 respondents met the inclusion criteria. A total of 1452 questionnaires were issued and the valid response rate was 96.14% (1396 of 1452). Factors affecting health literacy and the relationship to health literacy were identified by one-way ANOVA and a multiple linear regression model. Results: The average health literacy level of the elderly in nursing homes was relatively low (71.74 ± 28.35 points). There were significant differences in the health literacy score among the factors of age, gender, race, education level, household income, marital conditions, and former occupation (p < 0.001). The health literacy score was significantly associated with smoking, drinking, physical exercise, and health examination (p < 0.001). The elderly with higher health literacy scores were significantly less likely to have risky behaviors (smoking, regular drinking, and lack of physical exercise), and in turn significantly more likely to undergo health examinations regularly, report good self-rated health, and significantly more likely to access sufficient health information from multiple sources (p < 0.001). No differences were noted between the health literacy score and BMI (p > 0.05). Multiple linear regression analysis showed that the independent influencing factors of health literacy included education level, race, former occupation, household income, age, physical exercise, health examination, smoking, and health information access (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Health literacy was significantly associated with health-related behaviors in elderly Chinese. Further longitudinal studies are needed to help confirm that improving health literacy in the elderly may be effective in changing health-related behaviors. To reduce risky habits, educational interventions to improve health literacy should be simultaneously conducted in health promotion work. View Full-Text
Keywords: health literacy; health-related behaviors; health status; nursing homes; relationship health literacy; health-related behaviors; health status; nursing homes; relationship
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Liu, Y.-B.; Liu, L.; Li, Y.-F.; Chen, Y.-L. Relationship between Health Literacy, Health-Related Behaviors and Health Status: A Survey of Elderly Chinese. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 9714-9725.

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